By Kelly Jordan
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The Red River Parish District Attorney’s Office along with Project Celebration helped raise awareness of Teen Dating Violence in hopes of helping others.
According to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, one in three high school students experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of a dating partner. Young women ages 18-24 experience intimate partner violence at a rate almost twice the national average.
What Can you Do?
Abuse is preventable. Addressing early signs of abuse can prevent future violence. Encouraging healthy relationships based on equality and respect is key.
You deserve respect in your relationships. You have a right to privacy, independence, safety, and control over your body. Some red flags of dating abuse include:
Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
Does not honor your boundaries.
Is excessively jealous and accuses you of cheating.
Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails or texts you throughout the day.
Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are “crazy,” “stupid” and/or “fat,” or that no one would ever want or love you.
Says one thing and does another.
Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.
Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
Tells you to stop participating in things you enjoy.
If you think your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, there are steps you can take. As a parent, you are critical to helping your teen develop and maintain healthy relationships. You are also in a position to provide life-saving support if they are being abused.
Loveisrespect.org has great tips for parents: listen, support, accept, and focus on behaviors.
One of the most important steps to take is to start a conversation about healthy relationships. Talk early, talk often! Early conversations can promote healthy relationships and prevent abuse.
If you or someone you know has been affected by Teen Dating Violence, please contact our office at 318-932-4035 ext. 3, Project Celebration at 318-256-6242 or the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Statewide Hotline 1-888-411-1333 for more information. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.